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Obituary: Frederick P. Whiteface
THURSDAY, MAY 30, 2002

Note: The Native American Music Association provided this article.

FREDERICK P. WHITEFACE (1922-2002). The Native American Music world lost one of its most distinguished talents, elder Frederick P. Whiteface. On Sunday, May 19th at 10:07AM, he died at his home in Rapid City, South Dakota, surrounded by his family.

Frederick Whiteface was NAMA's 1998 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and Best Jazz Artist at the First Native American Music Awards. He was a special guest presenter at the Second Annual Native American Music Awards, and a special guest performer with his group, The Swing Fantabulous at the Third Annual Native American Music Awards.

For most of his entire life, Frederick P. Whiteface had a love affair with music from two different worlds. Born on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota in 1922, he began playing music by the age of seven. A WWII Veteran and a college graduate with a teaching degree, 80 year old Frederick Whiteface was a self taught musician. He picked up the guitar at 11 years old. During high school he added other instruments into his repertoire including; clarinet, trumpet & trombone. However, it was the saxophone that stayed with him most. Allowed only to travel within a 100 mile radius from his home, he found part time work with other professional groups in his area. By age 20 he joined the Navy and served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans aboard the USS Impulse, USS Big Her and the USS Cape Johnson during World War II. In the 1950's he formed The Flamingos and performed at clubs in the Black Hills. He soon became noted for his unique sax and jazz improvisations fused with traditional Lakota chants and drum beats.

In recent years, he led his own jazz quartet and played with Big Bands such as The Tones and Tommy Mathews Orchestra. In 1995, he was inducted into the Dakota Hall of Fame and subsequently, April 20th, 1995 was declared Frederick Whiteface Day. At 76 years of age, he witnessed the national release of his first recording, Mato Hota on Soar Records which earned him a 1998 Nammy for Best Jazz Recording and a letter of congratulations from US Senator Tom Daschle. During his recipient speech at the First Native American Music Awards he said, "In the end, you get an opportunity to express what you feel and I think that is the most important part. I got an opportunity to express what I was hearing from the wind."

On November 11th 2000, Frederick Whiteface and the Swing Fantabulous graced the NAMA stage with a dynamic performance at the Third Annual Native American Music Awards.He also performed in a special Hall of Fame tribute for the late jazz artist Jim Pepper along with Rita Coolidge, Mickey Hart, Bill Miller, Joanne Shenandoah, Robert Tree Cody, Jennifer Warnes and others. His independent recording, Fred By Request also received a nomination for Song/Single of the Year.

Succumbing to a 20 year battle with cancer, Frederick Whiteface leaves behind his wife Pearl and his six children; Charmaine Whiteface Cutler, Wayne Iteska (Iteska means Whiteface in Lakota), Germaine Whiteface Hughes, Lorraine Whiteface Braveheart, Elaine Whiteface, and Dalaine Bloom, the latter of the two who have both appeared on their Dad's recordings, Mato Hota and Fred By Request.

NAMA CEO and President, Ellen Bello states, "I am very saddened by this loss. Frederick Whiteface was an extremely distinguished and classy gentleman who was an exceptional talent and ultimate professional. He was also a wonderful role model, teacher, and an inspiring individual to many. He will be greatly missed by us all."

His daughter, Dalaine, recalls, "My father was very happy always of the recognition he received from NAMA for his music. His Awards still remain in view for everyone at his home. Although, we miss our father very much; the 20 year battle with cancer was a long struggle. We are just very happy that he does not have to suffer any longer and that he did accomplish many of his musical dreams.The Priest at his funeral said that when Fred arrived in Heaven; that Louie Armstrong welcomed Fred and asked him to lead them in playing," When The Saints Come Marchin In".

In his honor, the Native American Music Association has established the Frederick P. Whiteface Scholarship Award. Donations are now being accepted by the Whiteface family and the Native American Music Association. Donations may be sent to the Native American Music Association, 511 Avenue of the Americas #371, New York, NY 10011.For further information, contact Ellen Bello at (212) 228 8300 or Dalaine Bloom at (605) 348 3591.

Frederick P. Whiteface Recognitions & Awards:
1998 Lifetime Achievement Award - Native American Music Awards
1998 Best Jazz Artist - Native American Music Awards
1995 Dakota Musicians Hall of Fame
April 20, 1995 - Fred Whiteface Day

Relevant Links:
Native American Music Association -

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